Home Depot

Dear Rick,

How could I so easily forget the one place that has so much meaning, the place that would be so difficult to return to without you?

Home Depot was a huge part of our marriage. It started at Lester’s, when we were planning to buy his house on land contract. We put a lot of work into that house and then walked away.

After buying the house in Maryland, we literally spent hours every weekend for another six years, roaming the aisles purchasing appliances, and parts, and lumber, and screws.

We tore our house back to the studs and rebuilt it by hand – which meant needing all sorts of tools, large and small – purchasing the smaller ones, renting the big ones. We’d start out Sunday mornings at Old Country Buffet for breakfast, then walk across the parking lot to the Home Depot.

You’d sometimes stop for things on the way home from work, but we usually shopped together on Saturdays and Sundays before taking on more hours of work on whatever project was currently underway. Then, after returning to Michigan, we started all over updating this house and we needed to make those same trips.

When your mom died, we spent how many years? At least three, doing it all over again.

Home Depot, and sometimes Lowes, was a major location for so much of our time together, building, rebuilding, updating our homes together. Watching out dreams come to fruition was wonderful and forged the deep connection, the bond we both enjoyed in our 21 years together.

So it’s no wonder it hit hard yesterday when I went to Home Depot with Brandon and Jonas. For some fathomless reason, it never occurred to me that it would be difficult. I knew the diners where we had our breakfast every Sunday would be awful to visit without you, and going to movies without you, which was our weekly Thursday date – I knew that would sting. But Home Depot? How could I forget how much that could hurt, walking those hallowed halls without you?

It just seemed so wrong. I very rarely, if ever, went there to pick up anything without you by my side. It was always the two of us! I think I’m glad I was with Brandon the first time, and not alone. I’m not sure I could have even walked in the door by myself. I maintained my cool, but felt like sobbing.

Brandon left me for a few minutes while I entertained Jonas as he watched an employee, a forklift, and a garage door, and standing there with him, I had time for my mind to wander, and it started to hurt more and more. It was near the lumber – oh, how many times did we buy and look at lumber? Six or more decks, a front porch, fences…hasps and braces, latches and brackets.

God, I missed you then. I wished more than anything that we could have a do-over. I want to start from the beginning and enjoy the entire 21 years again, with you by my side, laughing, joking, arguing, swearing, but most of all just loving each other. Just being together day and night, week after week, month after month, year after year, decades with you by my side.

I can’t stand this isolation. This is the greatest punishment I’ve ever endured.

Why? Why can’t we have had more time together? I knew being married at forty meant we’d lost at least two decades we could have shared, but I hoped so much to live to be 80 with you. To retire and just be together, no matter how old, crotchety, lame, or sickly – I’d have loved my time with you.

I miss you, honey. I miss you and the life we shared. I miss weekends at the Home Depot and hanging out, and building our lives together.

About the author

Katherine Billings Palmer is a technical writer, poet, and essayist from Garden City, Michigan. She’s won several academic writing awards, including first place in the University of Michigan Dearborn Critical Essay Contest for her work about poet John Donne: “‘The Sun Rising’: A Lover’s Boast.”

In 2017, Katherine’s husband, Rick, died of complications from small cell lung cancer. She wrote a series of poems and essays about her struggles to cope with her grief. I Wanted to Grow Old With You is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions.

Her latest book, A Widow’s Words: Grief, Reflection, Prose, and Poetry – The First Year was published in January 2019 and is also available on Amazon.com.

Katherine is a guest blogger for the Hope for Widows Foundation and writes about her grief journey at www.TheWritingWidow.com.

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